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Posts Tagged ‘monumentally bad ideas’

This Property Should Be Condemned

July 3rd, 2013 No comments

Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger opens today at a theater too close to you. The reviews are as scorching as a summer’s day in Monument Valley. And I am going to take a cheap shot and smugly suggest that spending 250 215 250 million dollars* to fully realize the exotic world and complex backstory of a cowboy with a mask may have been a poor decision.

Why does this film even exist? Who, in 2013, was clamoring for the return of the Lone Ranger? Hey, I watched reruns of Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as the Ranger and Tonto as a kid. And I’m pretty sure that I enjoyed them.** But–and this is worth emphasizing–I am old.***

Some poor marketing executive has probably spent the past year trying to figure out how to make “Hi-yo, Silver!” a thing with Kids Today, and I place the blame for that on our general unwillingness to let old “Intellectual Properties” ride off into the sunset. I attribute this to a combination of nostalgia, the desperate search for exploitable pop-culture franchises, and the realization by the estates of long-dead creators that their cash cows are down to their last teats.

I say this as someone who enjoyed John Carter and adored Speed Racer, but maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to let some old IP die. Not everything stands the test of time, or deserves to.

Some characters are simply outdated. Some concepts have been supplanted by more sophisticated treatments. And some ideas probably weren’t so hot in the first place.

We’re not as in love with the mythology of the Old West as we were when the Ranger first rode the plains in a cloud of dust. And our racial sensitivities have evolved enough**** that we have to perform conceptual backflips to make the stereotype of a faithful Indian sidekick palatable.

I’m not saying that we have to consign Silver to the dog-food factory. These are cultural artifacts, worthy of our study and our love. But perhaps we don’t need to reboot them for modern audiences. Perhaps we shouldn’t spend a quarter-billion dollars trying to convince ourselves that we still deeply care about The Lone Ranger.

*Disney cut the initial budget to a slightly more manageable $215 million, but the runaway production eventually cost as much as the original estimate…and that’s after they dropped the werewolves. Yes, “werewolves.”

**There wasn’t much on TV back then, so regular watching of a show was not necessarily an endorsement of same.

***Okay, I’m nearly 49, so I’m not the Highlander. Still, I’m old enough to have seen The Brady Bunch in its network run. I get to play the “you young whippersnappers” card.

****Well, not nearly enough, but enough for this, at least.

The Worst Idea I’ve Heard All Week

May 26th, 2009 No comments

The rights holders of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are trying to launch a feature film reboot, minus creator Joss Whedon and any of the supporting characters from the Buffy and Angel TV series.

This is going to sound hypocritical, given that I’ve just been talking up the V remake, but I think this is a terrible idea. In my view, there are two huge differences between Buffy and other recently-relaunched properties such as V and Star Trek

First, it’s too soon. V ceased production in 1985. There’s an entire generation that’s likely never even seen it. It’s more complicated with Star Trek: the franchise ground to a halt a mere four years ago with the cancellation of Enterprise, but it’s been 18 years since the final film featuring the entire original cast. 

Buffy went off the air a mere six years ago, and its spin-off Angel followed in 2004. Buffyverse alums (among them Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Michelle Trachtenberg, Alyson Hannigan and Eliza Dushku) permeate current pop culture. Unlike the original Trek actors, they’re still young. Launching a remake when many fans are still holding out hope for an unlikely but not yet unreasonable renuion of the TV cast is perilous.

Second, the filmmakers have not reckoned with the rabid fervor of the Whedonites. They’re on a first name basis with Joss. And, despite Dollhouse, they haven’t yet suffered the disillusionment that Star Trek and Star Wars fanboys eventually felt with both Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas. Mark my words, reviving Whedon’s baby without his involvement will bring down a swift and merciless wrath. Hell, it’s been a couple of hours since I read the story, so it’s probably already well underway.